Hola, que tal todo? // Hey, how’s everything going?
Over here, it’s pretty swell. After an overnight flight, we got to Madrid 9 am Sunday morning. After going through typical, international travel airport stuff, we drove to Colon where we were met by our host families and shuttled off to our new homes for the next 90 days! Monday bright and early we started class (well, really orientation) and the rest of this week has settled rapidly into place. Already I feel like I’ve lived here forever, while also feeling like I don’t know this place at all.
Madrid is a BEAUTIFUL place. Ya estoy encantada and I have begun mentally marrying myself off to just about every Spaniard I see and envisioning our future lives here in this enchanting city.
I’ll be taking four classes while I’m here–language, modern Spanish Society, Theater, and an Art and Culture class. Our professors are all adorably animated and incredibly relaxed. One even went so far as to helpfully translate niñera (babysitter) for us on the board as ‘babyshitter.’ Once the laughing class told him his mistake, he just shrugged and smirkingly said, ‘pues, un babysitter is a niñera buena, y a babyshitter is a bad one, no?” Double points for mixing humor and Spanglish, Juan. We’re all obsessed.
Already, my lovely roommate and I have wandered all around our neighborhood exploring. Just about every day thus far we’ve gone on several hour walks, usually with a destination in mind but as we’ve acclimated verrryyy quickly to Spanish culture we typically end up continuing to walk around or doing whatever else strikes our fancy. Como sea. (For those of you non-Spanish speaking folks, como sea is a beautiful phrase that pretty just means, it will be what it will be. And whatever that outcome is, we’re all relaxed about it!)
Because we basically don’t have class (I mean, ok. We do have class, it just ends at 1 pm at the latest and usually doesn’t involve Fridays, cause who has time for that?) this is a three day weekend for us! Last night, we went out for tapas and explored with our ‘amigos españoles’ and saw what some of the local youths like to do. Can I just say, sangria is all it’s cracked up to be. That stuff is DELICIOUS. And tinto de verano? It’s like sparkling water with happy grapes dancing around in it.
I can’t wait to explore more and really get to know my neighborhood. My roommate and I (and others in our group) keep reminding ourselves that we’ve been here less than a week–it’s okay that we haven’t done everything yet, cause we have three months to settle in! Right now, I’m feeling very (overly) attentive to the fact that I’m an American, spending time with a group of other American students like me, and sometimes I have these freak out moments that I’M IN SPAIN AND I NEED TO MAKE SPANISH FRIENDS AND GET TO KNOW SPAIN AND–DOES THAT PERSON STARING AT ME KNOW I’M AMERICAN!? (Um, of course. You’re in a group of 16 people speaking English, Michaela.)
For whatever reason, being a foreigner here doesn’t feel like it did in Ecuador. There, being an American made me somewhat exotic. Here, Americans are a bit of a dime-a-dozen and being una americana doesn’t feel very hip. In the weeks to come, I’m hoping to navigate this tension well–finding good community with my group and deepening those relationships (cause I have been blessed with an AMAZING study abroad group of really chill, interesting folks) while getting to know this new place and people. I’ll drink to that. Salud!